Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tougher Than Thou on Iran

To post-election turmoil in Tehran, Washington reaction is shaping up as a classic round of mock macho, ranging from John McCain's twittering down to Eric Cantor's schoolyard taunting of the Obama Administration.

Faced with the unknowable depth, duration and consequences of opposition to Ahmadinejad's "victory," the White House is limiting itself to expressions of concern and disapproval, but carefully avoiding an active role in fomenting discord in Iran.

That's not good enough for today's Republicans in an age where the rule that politics stops at the water's edge is only a memory.

On the Today Show, McCain insists that Iran "should not be subjected to four more years of Ahmadinejad and the radical Muslim clerics,” urging that Obama “should speak out that this is a corrupt, flawed sham of an election and that the Iranian people have been deprived of their rights.”

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor, as befits his 2012 presidential delusions, as substantive as those self-promoted rumors about being considered as McCain's running mate last year, goes even further:

"The Administration’s silence in the face of Iran’s brutal suppression of democratic rights represents a step backwards for homegrown democracy in the Middle East. President Obama must take a strong public position in the face of violence and human rights abuses. We have a moral responsibility to lead the world in opposition to Iran’s extreme response to peaceful protests."

The Wall Street Journal is cheer-leading the GOP's macho moves on Obama, declaring three days after the election, "Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events as his approach to Iran in his first months in office. Even Jimmy Carter drew roughly appropriate conclusions about the Iranian regime after the hostages were taken in 1979."

Such static is no less damaging for being so predictable and feckless. McCain, for one, might want to think back to his own and Al Gore's experiences with a "sham of an election" in 2000 and consider how he would have responded to Iranian bloviating about "people being deprived of their rights."

There is room for debate about the Obama Administration's ultimate response to the events in Tehran, but voters last year opted for statesmanship rather than political posturing on the world stage. Carping from the cheap seats was not on the menu.


(O)CT(O)PUS said...

I couldn't agree more ... so I'll just chime in with a few more thoughts:

I have no near-term optimism for a positive outcome in Iran; the default condition of all dictators is oppression. Perhaps the more immediate challenge is not whether the Iranian reformist movement will prevail, but containing neo-con sentiments here at home, i.e., McCain’s theme song: Bomb, bomb Iran.

The U.S. has the potential to screw this up if we undertake provocative actions that will alienate the younger generation … who comprise 66% of the population and will eventually dominate Iranian politics after the aging clerics die off. Lets just hope it is our side that DOES NOT get the itchy trigger finger (in contrast to last time when our CIA did screw things up resulting in a generation of enmity between our respective countries).

Anonymous said...

The Republicans want Obama to fail. Hence, the stupid advice.

For Obama to take a heavy-handed approach would likely reunite the Iranian people against a perceived American bully, as was the case when George Bush 43 was president.

Obama's hands-off approach may be a major problem for the Iranian dictators.